The Remarkable Last Question in Barbara Hammer’s End-of-Life Exit Interview

We highly recommend the New Yorker’s Masha Gessen’s “Exit interview” with pioneering filmmaker and visual artist Barbara Hammer who, having exhausted all treatment options for the cancer she has lived with for thirteen years, is dying. Hammer’s last interview is remarkable in ways too numerous and subtle to describe, — not the least of which is her being so utterly forthright about her state — and we found many things we imagined excerpting.

We chose just this, one of Gessen’s last questions:

We said yesterday that this is an exit interview. Like when you leave a job and the human-resources department conducts an interview with you. My question is, What was your job?

HAMMER: My job was anything that I made up and decided to do. It was often around filmmaking, but sometimes it would be painting or making an installation or doing a performance. I wanted people to know what it was like to have cancer and not just see it on the screen but to see me there coughing and struggling and breathing and not breathing, so I did a piece which was a lot of work, and seventy people got to see it in a gallery. But then it led to more performances. It has been learning how to just follow my path. And, if I don’t get the money for a film, I move to another film. There was always another kind of film, a film that I just needed to make.


What was, what is, your real work? seems like an utterly clarifying question to ask ourselves…


One Response to The Remarkable Last Question in Barbara Hammer’s End-of-Life Exit Interview

  1. gallagher 02.28.2019 at 4:15am #

    Gives a different perspective,
    to the word ‘un-employed’.

    Maybe ‘un-enjoyed’ is better.

    What a beautiful foto.
    Life is good,
    isn’t it.
    “…just need to make it.”

    Frohes Schaffen.

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